Readers’ wildlife photos

July 13, 2014 • 6:25 am

There are three contributions today; click all photos to enlarge.

First, from reader Dom, a plume moth (a species new to me). His notes and photo:

You may like this plume moth – Pterophoridae – photographed on a curtain in daylight. It was hard to get it all in focus & not disturb it. This is Amblyptilia acanthadactyla. It is found across Europe. Plume moths are so bizarre – some have really diaphanous wings like feathers.

Identifying moths & indeed any insects is not easy from even a very good book: there are 2717 species of moths & butterflies listed on the UK moths website.

What a strange creature! I wonder why its wings are so narrow.

plume moth 1

Reader John in Ethiopia sent some photos of wild primates. This species is endemic to one small area:

 I attach a couple of other photos, this time of a family of Gelada monkeys [Theropithecus gelada] in Ethiopia’s Simien [JAC:!!] Mountains. I particularly like this because of the way it seems to show neoteny in action. The Gelada were originally called “baboons”, because of the doglike snout, but the baby could easily be a chimp, and is not so different in appearance from some human infants I have seen!

It’s called a “monkey” instead of a baboon because it’s in its own genus that differs from Papio, the genus of baboons.  But it’s a close relative, and some workers do classify this species as a baboon. That is a semantic decision, even if Papio and Theropithecus are sister groups (each other’s closest relatives).


From an article in Smithsonian on geladas:

Male geladas are the size of large dogs, weighing 50 to 60 pounds. Females are about half as big. Both sexes have a bald, hourglass-shaped patch of skin on their chests that telegraphs a male’s social status and a female’s reproductive stage. Depending on hormone levels, the color ranges from meek eraser pink to fiery red. Males’ patches are brightest during their sexual prime, Beehner and her husband, University of Michigan biologist Thore Bergman, have found, and females’ chest patches blister when they are in estrus. (They are also called “bleeding-heart baboons,” though they are actually monkeys.)

[JAC: Baboons are monkeys! This is a mistake on the part of the authors. “Monkeys” comprise all primates in the suborder Haplorrhini and infraorder Simiiformes (simians) excluding the lower category of the superfamily Hominoidea (the apes), which itself includes ourselves, orangs, chimps, gorillas, bonobos, gibbons, and siamangs. Monkeys are found in both the New and Old Worlds, while apes, all tailless, are found only in the Old World. Baboons are not in the Hominodea and have tails, albeit short ones, ergo they’re monkeys. Note that, contrary to what many people think, humans are almost always classified as apes, though some people create their own grouping for them.]

Groups of sullen-looking bachelor monkeys lurk outside the herds. These juveniles are similar to adolescent street gangs, and Chadden Hunter, an Australian researcher who began studying geladas in the late 1990s, dubbed two such groups the “Sharks” and the “Jets,” à la West Side Story. Fiona Rogers took such a liking to the bachelors’ hangdog looks that her partner says he felt a stab of jealousy. “I was a little worried,” Shah says.. . . geladas are very social. Herds can be enormous—up to 1,200 individuals. But most interactions occur within a harem, composed of a leader male, two to a dozen females and their young. The females are related to each other, and they sometimes turn on the leader if he is grooming them insufficiently, not protecting them or otherwise shirking his duties.


Their range:


Finally, an absolutely gorgeous Idaho sunset contributed by reader Stephen Barnard:

Sunset Stephen Barnard


28 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

      1. Nice one Stephen! It is the kind of HDR that doesn’t look fake. I tried to do HDR on the moon & mars (to also get Mars with its orange colour showing) but even with the tripod, the moon moved and when assembled looked silly. I was too lazy to go get the shutter release.

          1. Exactly.

            And, at least on the 5DIII, if you use mirror lockup with the two second timer, when you press the shutter button the mirror immediately lifts, then the camera waits the two seconds, and finally fires the shutter — generally, exactly what you’d be doing with the remote release in such situations anyway.


            1. I tried locking up the mirror but still got shake. I would’ve tried other stuff if I wasn’t lazy & I didn’t already get the shot hand held.

              1. Mirror lockup by itself only reduces blur from mirror slap, and that’s something that only appears in a narrow range of shutter speeds — typically, from ~1/15s – 1/60s, depending on the model camera. (No clue what it is for the 5DIII, but I’m pretty sure mirror slap is minimal for the camera at any speed — and especially minimal in the silent shutter mode.) Another way to avoid blur from mirror slap, of course, is to use live view.

                There are, of course, all sorts of other forms of motion blur, and mirror lockup won’t do anything to help with them.

                But, if you’ve got a tripod and your subject isn’t moving, if you’ve forgotten your remote release, don’t despair: turn on mirror lockup and the two second timer, and all will be well.


              2. Yeah, I used Liveview in a pinch because it was dark and I didn’t feel like fiddling with the controls but yeah, the timer would’ve been the smarter way to go.

        1. The shutter release I bought from Canon was a piece of shit. You needed the fingers of a seamstress and the strength of a gorilla to remove it from the 5D3. I eventually pulled back the sheathing and broke the ground wire with my fumbling attempts, accompanied by ample cursing, and was afraid to use it again.

          1. Canon (and others) also offer infrared wireless remotes that work reasonably well, with the caveat that the remote has to be pointed at the front of the camera.

            In studio settings, by far the best remote is a laptop connected via USB cable….


            1. I should look into some app based stuff. I think there are wifi or other radio based triggers that would work well.

              1. I know there’re iOS apps that give you everything imaginable…but, last I knew, you still had to either connect a laptop to the camera via USB or get the insanely-priced WiFi grip for the 5D. The 6D has WiFi built in, and I think even its own Web server. There may be dongles by now…I imagine PocketWizard likely has something expensive but not as expensive.

                It would be neat to have wireless remote live view control with the iPhone or iPad, but not neat enough to spend the kind of money required.

                I imagine the soon-to-be-released 7DII and the 5DIV a year or so from now will both have built-in WiFi, if you feel like getting on the upgrade treadmill….


              2. Nope no upgrade treadmill for me unless the optics are much better. I have remote tracking stuff for my telescope and that is it.

              3. You’re likely in for a disappointment, then — or, at least your pocketbook is. The 5DIV is pretty much guaranteed to eat into the image quality of today’s medium format digital cameras. And the 7DII is probably going to give the 1Dx a run for its money, but it’d be more of a side-step for current 5DIII owners.


            2. I have one of those infrared remotes. It’s a piece of shit, too. Stopped working. I very rarely need a shutter release, but when I do I use the self timer. 🙂

          2. I think it’s the same as the 7D and 40D? If it is, mine would work with it but it’s annoyingly constructed with 3 prongs that you have to get exactly right. Putting it the camera in the dark is a special feat of dexterity! Why they didn’t go with something simpler, I’ll never know but the timer is a good option. Why I didn’t think of that, I don’t know.

    1. The hybrids would have to be fertile. After all, many species that we see as distinct form occasional hybrids in nature, but the species do not merge, probably because the hybrids have an intrinsic, sexual, or ecologicval disadvantage. What does van Gelder mean by “successful”?

      And I’m not sure that “succesful” hybridization means that the species are congeneric. I know of many hybrids formed between distantly related species that aren’t in the same genus.

      Genera are artificial constructs anyway, and it seems silly for me to form them based on hybridization.

  1. The form of plume moths is likely to make them look of a bit of dead grass. They are small, usually with wing spans well under an inch. One can see some of the very long, plume-like bristles along the wing border in the picture.

  2. Was going to ask how large the moth was, but Mark above said under and inch. Really neat insect!

    Never heard/seen a Gelada. Beautiful monkeys, love that thick coat.

    And thanks for the HDR sunset Stephen! Truly spectacular.

  3. I saw over a dozen reddish-brown-winged plume moths with white spindly legs (like ice crystals) and very well-camouflaged wings resting (and mating) on the painted wooden wall outside my apartment for a couple days a few weeks ago. I only found out what they were yesterday, as it is difficult to describe these insects. Their wingspans were roughly an inch and a half long.

  4. Wow, that is one weird looking moth! And Stephen B is a lucky, lucky, bastard to be living in such a fabulous place.

    1. They are not uncommon – there is one that has feather like wings.

      There are grass moths which really disappear – they are so like grass seeds, & they are day flyers, or at least fly up when you walk through grass. hard to get close to…

      Lovely baboons!

  5. The hybrids are fertile and where the ranges overlap there’s a genetic gradient as one species shades into the other. There are a couple of studies on this done back in the nineties looking as well at how their different social structures are disrupted in the overlap area. As I recall one is in “Current Anthropology.”

  6. Their distribution is such that each inhabits slightly different ecosystems, differing primarily in aridity. The social behaviors are adaptive to the differing systems. It’s in the interface area where the greatest number of hybrids are found.

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